Welcome to 2017, where the 1st amendment is abused every single day by "fellow" Americans. Can freedom of speech, religion, press, petition and assembly be taken too far? What is the law? What does it mean to be an American?
What is freedom of speech? Definitionally, freedom of speech is "the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint." When does it become slander? Where is the line drawn? According to The Inside Counsel magazine, in order to accuse someone of slander, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the statement was false, the person who made the comment was doing it to cause harm in some way and that no research was done in order to make an accusation like they did.
With that being said, where does it become serious enough to turn someone in to the police?
What about freedom of religion? For those of you who don't know, that means you can choose any religion and worship freely without any interference by the government. Again, I must ask where do we draw the line? What if you walked into Subway and a Muslim boy was working, but you wanted a bacon sub? Imagine this is your 30-minute break and you don't have time to go anywhere else, but he refuses to make your sub because in his strict religion handling pork isn't acceptable. So you leave to finish the rest of your shift without food for the day. If the customer calls and complains, is it OK to fire that young man? Or is it his right to do this?
Freedom of press, similar to freedom of speech is being able to write opinions in print without censorship by the government. According to the Law Phil Project, if a journalist wants to write an article, it must be a fair and true report of a judicial, legislative, or other official proceedings which are not of a confidential nature; it has to be made in good faith; also without any comments or remark. It seems as if newspapers are allowed to talk about whoever they want, and say whatever they want about anyone. Is this abuse of the 1st amendment, or is it just business?
Freedom to petition the government, according to Learning to Give, is the freedom to stand up and speak out against injustices they feel are occurring. It also gives people the right to do something about the injustice, and petition it. This specific part of the first amendment is different than all of the others, an action can only be taken if the petitioning group gets large enough. Petitioning the government would take place if someone wanted to impeach the president. If the crowd grew big enough and multiple people started to join then legal action could be taken to start impeachment of the president.
Now that four out of five pieces of the 1st amendment have been explained to you, what do you think about this?
On Sunday 24, 2017 the Pittsburg Steelers stayed in their locker room for the National Anthem before their game. A photo of Alejandro Villanueva (a Steelers player) standing for the National Anthem went viral on all social media. Online newspapers, famous celebrities, and people all over the world have shared this photo shaming the popular NFL team, while a not so dramatic photo wasn't shared by the public.
Photos from USA Today and Sports Illustrated
The photo on the right side is the photo that circulated through all media platforms. As a viewer, you cannot see a single player in the background. The two photos on the left clearly picture players. The media did not want the public to see this, is that abuse of the 1st amendment?
This photo was posted by the Bleacher Report on Twitter, but was soon removed.
As you can see here, the players are standing behind Villanueva paying their respect to the National Anthem, but for some teams, this isn't the case. Players from teams all over the NFL have chosen to kneel while the National Anthem is playing or being sung.
As I switch gears, let me propose this...
What these men are doing is entirely protected by the 1st amendment, but is it the right way to utilize said expressed freedoms?
The National Anthem represents the men and women who have died for us, and the ones who are serving. The United States military has fought for us to have these freedoms for decades. Brave men and women have died so we can live any lifestyle we choose, yet these men believe they are above that. These players assume that they are above all, and they disrespect our military while doing this.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for speaking your mind and standing up for what you believe in, but not in this impolite, discourteous way. I understand that these men are trying to make a point, but being this ill-mannered is unacceptable. Being a United States citizen means so much, and one duty as a citizen is to take part in nationalism.
Stand up for our flag, or get out.